From Rope to Threads

Well, as much as I’d rather post something more comical, scientific, or spell-bounding intriguing… this quick post will be simply a matter-of-fact report (rant) on current goings-on with me, those around me, and stuff in the U.S. If you were wanting/needing a lift-me-up blog-post, best you go somewhere else this time. I’m a realist as well as a hopeful optimistic realist. 😉

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Dallas, TX has very recently experienced over one week of triple-digit temperatures. Today’s expected high (yesterday’s) was a cool frigid 93º Fahrenheit. A happy respite from the 103-106 temps the other week. Most of those days we were also under National Weather Service “Excessive Heat Warnings” and “Air Quality Alerts.” The latter is basically a warning of high levels of ozone air pollution from man-made machines, factories, and refineries to go along with methane and CO² up there. This also includes dust/dirt in lower strata from heavy construction equipment, state-sanctioned (roads & highways) and/or private-sector contractors everywhere in the DFW Metroplex. That pollution is distinctly worse during windy days.

I watched this afternoon, about 1 or 2pm, out my front window three (3) Dallas Police Officers (all white), in two squad-cars, and one of the onsite property managers remove two different residents from my building who were apparently delinquent on their (daily?) monthly rent. One resident, a male perhaps in his late 30’s, packed up everything he could into his massive backpack and rolling suitcase, more things in bags under one arm, and walk out to the street. He then walked down the street until he was out of sight. He may have continued on to the busy 6-lane intersection a half-mile away, under a state highway bridge, with some 6-8 other homeless people (6-8 on a daily basis that is) holding cardboard signs walking out into and around stopped vehicles.

The other residents, a couple perhaps in their late 20’s, began packing up their little beat up used compact car—which was already quite full with tons of other belongings—eventually evacuated the property under watchful eyes of police and property management. As they left, their vehicle’s exhaust was visibly blue smoke; oil leak(s). I doubt their car would pass the state inspection laws in order to obtain liability insurance, required by law to own and operate a vehicle, assuming of course they owned it and possessed current, valid liability insurance minimums. The last 6-8 months I’ve witnessed these sorts of evictions take place. What is glaringly obvious are the vast numbers of homeless people everywhere on our busy street corners and intersections the last 12-24 months. It’s impossible to not notice.

This past week I’ve tried to help this neighbor three doors down. About 2-weeks ago his compact vehicle had a major breakdown. Jumper cables didn’t help. A tow-truck came to haul it off to some repair shop. His only source of income is his job as a Lift/Uber driver. He pays his rent week to week, for obvious reasons. Yesterday I drove him 8-miles to the shop his car was being worked on. It’s in a “sketchy” part of town at a very rundown business building of many old used vehicles scattered everywhere outside. They fill-up the make-shift parking lot.

When he returns to my car where I’m waiting—to make sure his car REALLY IS fixed/ready—with an obvious down-trodden face he tells me There’s a snag, a hangup. Can you wait a bit longer? I tell him of course. Ten minutes later he returns with all of his belongings to go straight to work, and tells me the part that was sent to them had stripped threads. He soon told me with an upset tone that he’s sure THEY (the shop) fucked-up the refurbished replacement part. I must take him back home… without his vehicle (for income). This foul-up has now cost him another full-day of income, making it the 5th day without making money. Today, to help him out at least a tiny bit, I go to the management office and pay for one night on his room/place. That’s all I could afford given my own strapped situation.

I literally just received the THIRD Amber Alert in as much as 7-9 days! This doesn’t count the significant increase in Amber Alerts we’ve had in Texas so far just these last 7.5 months! They’ve been going off noticeably more ever since COVID-19 quarantines and businesses and schools shutdown. By the way, that also includes most daycares for working Moms or Dads.

As many of you know, I am a sports fan, particularly a soccer/football fanatic. If any of you in the U.S. are sports fans as well, you know painfully that ALL of our professional and collegiate sports seasons have either been cancelled, postponed, or undetermined. As a result and for the first time in my entire life, I have become a semi-fan of the South Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), watching a few games at 4:35am… because most of this spring and summer there has not really been any other sports viewing-choices right now or there hasn’t been in the U.S. for several months! And I’ve NEVER liked baseball until my son got into it seriously at age 10 over nine years ago. Pfffft, KBO? Seriously!?

If any of you have followed the current American MLB shortened season going on, its season and teams are an organized mess because of COVID-19 infections popping up in at least 4-5 different team’s club houses at different times. The New York Yankees just had 1-2 games postponed because of positive CV-19 tests. More postponements or cancellations might be happening. The entire league’s 60-game season it is said will have a HUGE asterisk attached to it and its October World Series (if it happens?) because of this unprecedented time America and Americans are going through.

I watched two interviews over the past 2-3 weeks that I thought were poignantly revealing summaries of what our country has been put through. Sadly, it did not need to be this bad, not even close! Had our federal leadership heeded all the warnings coming from all the domestic and global experts back in Dec. 2019 thru mid-February 2020, this continuing crisis could have been shortened SIGNIFICANTLY and with much less economic tragedy. But then it happened again this past May over Memorial Day weekend and in another spike July… over 4th of July celebrations and holidays. Here’s what wealthy mogul and former Microsoft owner Bill Gates said about the handling of this pandemic by our federal government and leadership:  Bill Gates on GPS: “Testing insanity” is unique to U.S.

The other interview was by Christiane Amanpour of PBS with former Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich. It is well worth the 3-minute watch, I promise.

Personally, I have been COVID-tested twice now because both times I was experiencing 6 of the 11 symptoms for the lethal virus. Fortunately, both results were negative. But my last CV-19 test, inside Dallas County (one of the worst hot spots in Texas) took almost 5-weeks to return a result. The only reason my two results have been negative is because #1) I stay at home alone as much as possible. #2) because since early March I have social-distanced like an OCD MoFo, I wear a mask anytime I go out in public, I wear rubber gloves when I go into any places of business doing my BASIC shopping for essential items and/or grocery store items. And #3), if I don’t get out of my vehicle, that’s because I’ve shopped online for curbside delivery done by only ONE worker to my car… that is, a car parked over 8-10 feet away from any other vehicle!

And yet, after near 7-months of this consistent distancing, preparation, and wise, considered caution anywhere I go… this has become a change from “doing well enough” in April 2020, to making things tighter and stretching out longer in July 2020—going from a stabilized ship in a horrible storm at sea—to grasping for ropes to cling to as the HMS Titanic goes down, and to now desperately seeking THREADS that might hold me above the surface of a self-created (by my nation & its leaders) Level-5 hurricane I and everyone around me are getting sucked into. And yet there’s more.

Day before yesterday I ran out of one of my two high blood-pressure meds. When I requested the pharmacy to contact my primary care physician’s office for the refill, the next day they called back stating his office denied my request. I know why. I haven’t gone to have my blood lab-work done yet. It costs me $135 (no insurance) to have it all done, plus the tele-visit or video-visit with the doctor to initiate it. Plus on top of that the cost of the generic prescriptions. It’s money I do not currently have because of several other pressing priorities due to COVID-19 affects and consequences on businesses.

Oh well, hopefully life gets better for everyone and reduces hypertension and high blood-pressure—that if chronic, inevitably leads to heart disease and other medical problems. HAH! 😆 That’s a subject Dr. Sanjay Gupta covered in his extensive 1-hour documentary on HBO called One Nation Under StressIn the documentary Dr. Gupta uncovers the root causes of why American life expectancy, that is primarily Caucasian’s life expectancy, is falling and is now shorter than all other major developed countries. It is a disturbing revelation of our nation’s true health. Here’s the trailer:

So what’s the rub? Can we Americans make it until November 4-5? Can we survive with minimal casualties in this raging, unforgiving storm/hurricane of a crisis that could’ve been lessened significantly, probably avoided in many ways? Because this pandemic virus has affected and infected so many socioeconomic and healthcare sectors and lives, that not even I could’ve anticipated, it could get much worse and last much longer! And I am a HUGE nerdy science guy who tries his utmost to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. But this shit is going to outlast even my own predictions back in February. I told everyone then this pandemic and its ripple-effects would last till late-August or early-September before a downward trend and gradual respite occurs. It appears my prediction is coming up wrong and well short. 😔😷

I wonder… how in THA HELL did our Greatest Generation (of America) do it for well over 5-6 years during World War II  on top of coming out of the Great Depression!? Holy crap they must of been truly “E plurabus unum” (like superhero MoFos)… like we stamp on all of our coinage. HAH! Is it really a United States of America rather than a DISunited States of America, “One nation, under stress, and very divided!” as our new revised Pledge of Allegiance the last 4-years might be uttered today? Other nations around the world handled and managed the pandemic SO MUCH BETTER than the U.S.! That’s undeniably true.

Ugh, my rant is done. Tired I am. Everyone keep being safe, being well, and safely distanced. Try to keep going and hang in there! I hope I can too. 🙄

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P.S. One last thing. Have I ever expressed my rising annoyance with most everything electronic, internet, streaming, or WiFi-based over the last decade or more? And with that near boiling-point annoyance of said electronics I am quickly approaching the brink of ‘going postal.’ Have I expressed that? And how many times all my electronic devices I have ever owned (especially the last 10-12 years!) get overly spammed, hacked, and breakdown into some cyber-neurotic psychotic tantrums after ONLY 24-months from their purchase? Then I am forced to purchase a new cutting-edge “newer” device. Imagine that!

Does anyone else experience this incredibly frustrating, cyclical consumer entrapment on a society addicted to an electronic-everything world? Just a passing thought.

I really miss those days (in the 80’s and 90’s) when items, machines purchased would last a good 10-15 years, easily. Now, most mega-corporate business models are structured to generate what they call “perpetual revenue” and repeat consumers that appease, gratify share-holders for many quarterly P&L reports. Ugh, I so love hyper-capitalism.

That last sentence was extreme satirical sarcasm by the way. 😠

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Some Chicken Soup

It might be a tiny consolation to intelligent college-degreed Americans that tRump did not win decisively the U.S. popular vote Nov. 8th. As of 12:45pm CST today it was 48% to 48%. But that will not change what has begun happening for the next 4-years.

Let me first preface my initial thoughts. I am a political Independent who thoroughly evaluates ALL candidates and their background, experience, and track-record. I pay no attention to public campaigns and even less attention to the media-TV propaganda circus. Using websites like ProCon.org and other non-profit 501(c)(3) nonprofit nonpartisan public charities that provide well-sourced pro, con, and related research enabling what I think are very well-informed decisions. That said…

If you thought Hillary Clinton’s blunders in Washington D.C. were indications of serious character flaws for the Oval Office or how well or poorly to handle affairs in our nation’s capitol, on Capitol Hill, and out in the daunting international arena… we have just elected an immature 70-year old racist-misogynist with 1) a less-than-poised-mouth President, 2) with absolutely NO GOVERNING EXPERIENCE WHATSOEVER running the affairs of one of the world’s biggest, most influential nations in 3) extremely diverse global affairs with 4) a Congress that Constitutionally controls one-third of the total power between the three branches — 5) which is an entirely DIFFERENT beast than the private sector — of which 6) this man also has ZERO EXPERIENCE doing, ever!!! Now riddle me that!?

At least our Constitutional checks and balances are one more consolation for me and most definitely for our foreign allied nations and neutrals that are in as much dumb-founded shock as I am.

colin-powell-hrI like to consider myself a calm, reasonable man with above-average capability for critical-thinking skills, appropriate de-escalation methods — from my years in the Psych/A&D and Crisis treatment field — college-degreed with additional 18-hours graduate studies, and a deep passionate fondness for history and social sciences resulting in 5-years of general and Special Ed public teaching. This is why I have a high respect and admiration for retired 4-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. He is the consummate embodiment of stoic diplomacy coupled with first-hand experience in war and world conflict. What I admire most about the esteemed Colin Powell is how he conducted himself during America’s most polarized tumultuous times:  Vietnam, the invasion of Kuwait & subsequent First Iraqi War, and 9/11. If those three “tests” were any indication and model of how to manage diplomacy, politicians, and the dynamics of crisis, then Powell passes with stellar excellence! Magna Cum Laude, if you will. Two of many of my favorite Colin Powell quotes…

“Experts often possess more data than judgment.”

“Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.”

What is further mind-boggling to me is that Colin Powell, though technically a Moderate, aligned himself politically with the Republican party — why was the G.O.P. unable to find anyone in 2014-16 resembling or somewhat-resembling the experience and exemplary poise of Powell(?), even someone with just HALF of his Capitol Hill savvy anywhere in this nation of 325-million!? Here is a very good Sept. 2016 New York Times article by Michael Shear about what Powell thinks of our two main Presidential candidates (Click here). I think Powell is spot on, knows what he is saying, and has the experience to back it up. Period.

Finally, what I will never be able to wrap my head around is how an American “democracy” gave tRump enough support (only 48%) to cause our Electoral College to actually put this no-experience-whatsoever man into the White House. Maybe this short video will help explain to the rest of the world how this happened. Click the link below…

http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000004757868/the-electoral-college-explained.html

Or maybe that doesn’t help at all and only confuses our allies and neutrals.

I do know this for those of you in foreign countries, those delegates in the Electoral College are our previously elected House Representatives and Senators from our 50 states, who are representative of our state’s two bipartisan parties and lesser extent third parties. But these “delegates” don’t get into office without being first elected by registered voters in their respective state. In other words, some/much of what happens or doesn’t happen on the Federal level hinges on what informed, or less-informed, or ignorant registered voters do and don’t do (i.e. active, inactive, or unregistered voters) on the municipal, county, district or precinct, and state levels FIRST!

Ultimately, there are only six groups to praise or blame for the U.S.A.’s political Electoral College success or failure (e.g. Abraham Lincoln and Richard Nixon, respectively):

  • Well-educated, well-informed registered ACTIVE voters
  • Well-educated, well-informed registered INACTIVE voters
  • Poorly educated, poorly informed registered ACTIVE voters
  • Poorly educated, poorly informed registered INACTIVE voters
  • Well-educated, well-informed unregistered voters
  • Poorly educated, poorly informed unregistered voters

Naturally, the origins and causes of the above six American groups are an entirely different discussion and personal blog-post for which I currently have no desire nor energy to write. But hey, we all now have 4-years to think about and deal with it. This is the bed we’ve made for ourselves, now we must sleep in it.  — says with sad dejection

Chicken soup anyone?

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Civil Responsibility 2016

I pointed to the classroom’s lesson hook on the board, I turned to my 8th graders and repeated the question, “Who has the power to do things in the United States?” I quickly had to add, “LEGALLY do things!

Over the years of teaching Social Studies, there is one answer I consistently get: “THE PRESIDENT!” I remain silent for as long as necessary. Why? For a number of fine reasons, comic relief is one, but mostly to gauge how extensive the class will need to cover U.S. government, and indirectly Texas state government, for the upcoming week or two. However, there is another reason I like to ask the class this hook question. Inevitably parental teaching and influence will surface between the lines of their responses, especially if I allow the students some time and freedom to challenge each other’s answer and explanation. Those opening minutes are not too unlike adult conversations over political issues you catch at town squares or workplace break rooms. Every four years these conversations, sometimes volatile debates, can be exactly the same as those my 8th graders start. 😮

Don Huffines - TX Senator

Senator Huffines reply to me about the absurd injustice of Texas businesses refusing service to any of the LGBT community on religious grounds

If all of you received a quality education in primary school through secondary school and graduated obtaining your diploma, perhaps in the upper half of your senior class or better, or had the fortune to attend four years of undergraduate studies obtaining a bachelor’s degree, then it is reasonable to assume that you know that our U.S. President does NOT have all the power to do things. There is a very good reason… it prevents one person, or one office, organization, branch, from gaining a greedy and/or abusive advantage; in a word: dictatorship. Yet, surprisingly (or not) a significant population of American adults under the age of 50 feel the U.S. President is the sole person responsible for good times and bad times. At the risk of stating the obvious, this political mentality is tragic, let alone harmful for a community’s, a state’s, or a nation’s future.

Critical thinking skills are sometimes (often?) NOT taught to our young children, adolescents, or undergraduates. This is partly due to how much freedom people and institutions are indeed given, e.g. the above image and response letter from Don Huffines, my Texas Senator, regarding the rights of business owners to refuse all services to gays-lesbians-transgendered whomever they choose. Another reason critical thinking skills are not taught or tested in primary and secondary schools is that until recently Common Core Standards in education did not exist 10-20 years ago. Thus, a generation of un-ingenious or unimaginative followers were raised. Today, 43 states have fortunately adopted Common Core Standards teaching critical thinking skills to young minds. But that is only in public education. It does not reflect the ever-increasing popularity in some states for charter or private schools, much less the home-schooling sector.

Following is a good 3-minute video about these skills and how ProCon.org promotes them in non-partisan fashion.

As I alluded to in my previous post, I have very little time at the moment to write in-depth 3,000 – 7,000 word posts on such MONUMENTAL subjects as voting and other civil responsibilities during campaign years, primaries, elections — and elections of public officers who APPOINT other officers or judges into positions of great power the general population will have no direct say in their placing — and how these officials will affect millions of citizens for years to follow. Knowing how your candidate might “appoint” other officials, collaborate with other officials, or remain consistent to their campaign positions and promises are just as crucial as your here-n-gone single vote for him or her! I feel this is a subject, a blog-post that is important enough to pause my hectic life for a few hours and share in a small way how paramount civil responsibility is to each of us… including your own children’s and grandchildren’s futures and how to make changes, improvements, even though they may be slow and gradual.

Therefore, if you would like to get a broad introduction into how to be a more informed wiser voter, I’ll recommend my post Oversimplification 2012 and its 4-part series as a starting point. However, if you’d prefer the abbreviated more shallow introduction — i.e. the version(s) many American voters prefer or only have time for — then continue reading. If you barely had time to read this far, then I beg you to try and at least watch completely the below video. It could cause you to reconsider your voting and political tendencies regarding our privileged, important, and free (or costly?) civil right to vote that each of us are gifted. Voting, and voting wisely, as well as freely, should never be ignored or taken lightly.

So many political issues and controversy are rooted in economics; its healthy or unhealthy status. This is partly why I chose Joseph Stiglitz’s video and commentary over his new book, The Great Divide. Also because he is a Nobel Prize winner in Economics and has loads of wisdom to impart!

I hope this very brief post has helped you and other voters to be a bit more informed, but informed in more objective broader ways. Please get or remain very involved in your community’s, your county’s, your municipal’s, your state’s, and your federal elections. Correspond with your elected officials frequently. Vote and vote wisely, and just as important, vote for a greater good for the greatest number!

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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